Embraer Praetor 500: Buyer’s and Investor’s Guide
Embraer has a reputation for building excellent business aircraft, and the Praetor 500 is no exception. It can hold its own relatively well against super-midsize aircraft – at a midsize jet price point.
The midsize and super-midsize markets are both crowded – with most major OEMs selling a new aircraft in these size categories – and plenty of highly depreciated, older models to choose from. There is an abundance of choice, with competitor aircraft providing good range and larger cabins.
Unveiled at NBAA in 2018, the Praetor 500 was launched as the upgraded version of Embraer’s Legacy 450. The Praetor 500 plugs the size gap between Embraer’s Phenom 300 light business jet and its larger Praetor 600 super-midsize aircraft.
The Praetor 500 sits between midsize and super-midsize categories – competing against the likes of the Bombardier Challenger 350, Cessna Citation Longitude and the Gulfstream G280.
The Praetor 500 shares the same fuselage – and therefore cabin size – as its Legacy 450 predecessor.
The cabin has a flat floor and a cabin height of 6 ft 0 in (1.83m), allowing most passengers to fully stand up when walking around the cabin.
The cabin has a width of 6ft 10 in (2.08m) – which is plenty wide enough for the cabin to feel spacious – but the competing Gulfstream G280 and Bombardier Challenger 350 both offer an additional 4 inches (0.33m) of cabin width over the Praetor 500.
The Praetor 500 has a cabin length of 24 ft 0 in (7.32m) and can seat up to nine passengers – but most Praetor 500’s will be configured to have a standard capacity of seven passengers.
Embraer offer three cabin configurations for the Praetor 500 – that all feature two club seats, two single seats and a belted lavatory seat – but allow owners to choose the configuration for the forward part of the cabin.
Owner’s can choose between fitting the forward section of the cabin with an additional rear-facing single seat (bringing total capacity to eight passengers), with a kitchen area and a side facing seat (bringing total capacity to eight passengers), or with a two place divan (bringing total capacity to nine passengers).
Configuration choice will come down to what the owner’s typical mission profile will be, but owners who typically fly longer missions will likely want to opt for the kitchen with side seat configuration – in order to benefit from the fully equipped wet galley that includes a microwave, oven, refrigerator and coffee brewer.
The Praetor 500 has a cabin altitude of 5,800 ft at maximum cruise altitude – about half a mile below the altitude of Aspen. The lower the cabin pressure – the more refreshed passengers feel after flying, due to increased amount of oxygen in the cabin. By comparison the Gulfstream G280 has a cabin altitude of 4,800 ft, and the Bombardier Challenger 350 has a cabin altitude of 4,850 ft.
The cabin includes a HEPA filter to further improve cabin air quality. The filter captures 99.97% of all particles, such as bacteria and viruses. Embraer also applies MicroShield360 – a preventative coating system that continuously prevents the growth of microbes on surfaces – to every Praetor 500 cabin.
Flight information and cabin management features can be accessed on the upper panel display, or from personal electronic devices that connect to the aircraft through Honeywell’s Ovation Select system.
Owners can choose an optional in-flight entertainment system consisting of a high-definition video system, surround sound, and multiple audio and video input options that are compatible with portable electronic devices.
With a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.83 (636 mph / 1,024 kmph) the Praetor 500 is one of the quicker midsize aircraft available – although it is marginally slower than the Gulfstream G280 (Mach 0.85 / 652 mph / 1,050 kmph).
The Praetor 500 has with a maximum theoretical range of 3,340 nm (3,843 miles / 6,185 km), allowing passengers to fly nonstop between city pairs such as Frankfurt and Dubai, Singapore and Beijing, or between any two points within the contiguous United States. Its range, however, isn’t far enough to be able to reliably make non-stop flights across the Atlantic – particularly if there are strong headwinds.
The Praetor 500 lacks in range compared to its competitors, with Gulfstream G280 having an 8% greater range (3,600nm / 4,142 miles / 6,667 km). The Cessna Citation Longitude can fly 5% further than the Praetor 500, with a maximum theoretical range of (3,500nm / 4,028 miles / 6,482 km). This additional range can make a huge difference – particularly for transatlantic missions. Buyer’s looking for an Embraer product with greater range should look at the Praetor 600.
The Praetor 500 is powered by two Honeywell HTF7500E engines that each generate 7,528lbs of thrust. The engines are derived from the Honeywell HTF7000 family – which has flown over seven million flight hours – and of which different variations are used to power other mid and super-midsize aircraft such as the Gulfstream G280, Bombardier Challenger 350, Cessna Citation Longitude and the slightly larger Embraer Praetor 600.
The HTF7500E engines follow an on-condition maintenance program – meaning the engines remain on the aircraft until an issue arises during a scheduled inspection. On-condition maintenance helps minimise downtime and avoiding unnecessary repairs, although it can be more difficult to budget for maintenance events.
The aircraft is currently approved to use a blend of up to 50% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mixed with conventional jet fuel.
The Praetor 500 has superior airfield performance compared to other midsize and super-midsize aircraft. The aircraft only needs a runway length of 4,222 ft in order to take off at maximum weight- allowing passengers to utilise a wider selection of airports.
Lugano airport, Switzerland, and Santos Dumont airport, Rio De Janeiro, are just two examples of airports that the Praetor 600 is able to safely operate from at maximum takeoff weight – but competitor aircraft can’t.
The Praetor 500 is controlled using fly-by-wire technology – essentially a series of computers that process inputs from the pilot, and translates these inputs into movements of the flight control surfaces. Fly-by-wire replaces mechanical linkages from the cockpit to the rest of the aircraft – providing significant weight saving and fuel efficiency benefits, and ensures the aircraft always operates within its safety envelope.
Fly-by-wire is normally fitted on larger aircraft – making the Praetor 500 a standout aircraft given its size and price point.
Pilots control the aircraft via the sidestick control and will benefit from an enhanced vision system with a heads-up display, a synthetic vision system – as well as auto-throttle.
Buying / Investing
New aircraft announcements are good news for everyone – except aircraft owners.
However – the launch of the Praetor 500 was good news for existing owners of the Embraer Legacy 450 – as they are able to upgrade and convert their aircraft into a Praetor 500. Changes are made to the fuel system, including reinforcing the wing ribs to hold additional weight and relocating the fuel-measurement system, and new, larger swept winglets are installed. Updates to the cockpit include a new avionics load for the Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion flight deck. Conversions will cost Legacy 450 owners c.$500,000.
The Praetor 500 has proved to be a popular aircraft among operators. Flexjet, the fractional aircraft operator, has been offering the aircraft to its customers since 2019, and is converting its existing Legacy 450 aircraft into Praetor 500s. They won’t be the only operator with a significant fleet of Praetor 500s, as NetJets ordered up to 250 of the aircraft in 2023 in a deal worth over $5bn – with deliveries expected to begin in 2025.
The Praetor 500 falls awkwardly between the midsize and super-midsize categories. The drawback is that it isn’t quite as capable as some of its larger super-midsize competitors – but the advantage the Praetor 500 has is that it is significantly cheaper than some of these competing aircraft. List price for new Praetor 500 is $18.995m, with pre-owned aircraft trading between $17-$18m – which is significantly cheaper than competing aircraft such as the Gulfstream G280 ($24.5m 2022 list price), Bombardier Challenger 350 ($26.7m 2022 list price) and Cessna Citation Longitude ($26m 2022 list price).
Fixed costs – which are payable irrespective of if the aircraft flies, such as hangarage and insurance – will equate to c. $491,000 per year for a Praetor 500.
On top of this, owners will also need to pay variable costs that cover the cost to fly the aircraft, such as fuel, handling and dispatch fees. Variable costs for the Praetor 500 are $3,008 per flight hour.
Based on an assumed usage of 200 flight hours per year, an owner can expect to pay $1.1m annually to operate the aircraft.
Investing / Owning
Latest News (by Terry Spruce)
Embraer delivered 49 business jets in 4Q23, 30 light jets and 19 medium jets.
Full year 2023, Embraer delivered 74 light jets and 41 medium jets.